Government’s restructuring has reached the Postal Service as Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson explored options with postal workers, managers and union representatives.
But the Minister heard a litany of issues including staff shortages, acting positions, motorcycle loans, uniforms, and building maintenance.
Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Deborah Payne and Deputy Permanent Secretary Celia Pollard-Jones joined delegations of the National Union of Public Workers and Barbados Workers’ Union. The union groups were led by NUPW Acting General Secretary Wayne Walrond and BWU Deputy General Secretary Dwaine Paul.
Speaking during the meeting in the Minister’s Wildey office, Hinkson said a Cabinet paper on the reform of the BPS was being prepared, and should soon be up for consideration by ministers.
He stressed there was a need for postal reform, especially at a time when people access information at the click of a button, while the writing and posting of letters is diminishing.
He was supported by Acting Deputy Postmaster General Iris Lashley, who admitted that the postal service’s significant business was now from packages rather than social letters.
Declaring that there was a billion-dollar industry in packages and e-commerce, she reported that the BPS has seen an increase of between 25,000 to 100,000 packages per year.
“We would like to be able to handle the increase,” Lashley said, noting that efforts were already under way to see how they could harness some potential profits.
Consultants from the Universal Postal Union, the international organisation of national posts, were included in a national committee which was created to work on the reform, she said.
“We are looking at postal banking as a consideration,” Lashley said, as the post office also examines a Government proposal to go cheque-less, which would have an impact on those who cash their National Insurance cheques at various branches.
Acting Postmaster General Valeta Best said that over the years, the post office had ventured into other non-traditional areas, such as issuing application forms for passports and visas.
The BWU’s Paul noted that it was important to make the BPS “fit for purpose”, while ensuring that the livelihoods of the postal workers were protected at the same time. He also urged the management team to consider the other issues on the table, as they were critical to the everyday operations of postal workers.
Walrond of the NUPW echoed similar sentiments, noting that the union hoped to see all the outstanding issues being addressed within a reasonable timeframe.